The best way to ensure consistent brand share growth over competition is to have a powerful Brand and deploy it powerfully. Anyone who has a product (the term is used here to include services as well) can develop a reasonably sound Brand Building Program by making sure they take the following eight steps.
Five of these steps are strategic, and three involve how you execute them.
1. Identify the people who are most likely to have a pressing need for your product.
This first step involves your identifying the people who are most likely to be your core target group. These are the people whose pressing need for your product can turn them into core prospects for your product. Why the term ‘core’? These people can be expected to use the product more often and in greater quantities, because their need for your product compels heavier usage vis a vis the usage possible from other people who might have use for your product.
2. Identify the deepest and most lasting motivation of these people, which motivation can be addressed by your product.
This is perhaps the most important step you will take, because it involves seeking out the most powerful dynamics that are already operating out there in the market, so that you can harness their power, and thus multiply the impact of your marketing investment. is to isolate the most powerful emotional drives among these people, which drives might be addressed by your product.
It is important to note that this step is not primarily about your product. It is primarily about the people who are going to be your most valuable customers, because they can be expected to bring in the most revenues for you. In this step you should regard your product only in the context of ensuring that the motivation can somehow be fulfilled, or at least assisted with the use of your product.
Examples of such powerful motivations might be: career advancement, family security, health and well-being. As you can see, these motivations are not based on your product, but your choice would be based on your product being able to contribute toward fulfilling this motivation.
So the motivation you choose might not be the most powerful motivation among your core target group. But it will be the most powerful one that can be supported by your product benefit. This is important because, with this step, you are literally identifying the main thrust of your brand positioning, the one that will provide the greatest propulsion for your business.
3. Identify an attribute or capability in your product that makes your product either superior or unique vis a vis the competing products.
This step involves sharpening the competitiveness of your product in the market. Your product probably has several competitors, any of which might also be in a position to select the same or similar brand positioning. So with this step you will be able to preempt your competitors with a positioning that sets your product apart from theirs – in a way that makes your product preferred over theirs.
This step will allow you to sharpen your brand positioning with the comparative “Your product can …. better than other products can”, or the differentiating “only your product can…”. It is very useful to be able to claim outright superiority over competitors, at least in product attributes or capabilities, if not directly on your strategic positioning.
In the absence of any such outright superiority in your product, seek some product attribute or capability that is unique to your product. Of course, it it preferable for this superiority or uniqueness to be about something that contributes toward the products ability to fulfill your brand positioning.
4. Identify the most credible facts about your product, its formula, its capability, or its benefits, that can support its fulfillment of your sharpened brand positioning.
Not all products require believability. But most do. Hence it is useful to strengthen your sharpened brand positioning with a rationale that is believable, at least rationally, if not experientially. And this believability must be based on an actual ingredient, or design, or capability of your product.
5. Identify the kind of personality that best suits the kind of person who is believable at providing your core target group with your specific brand positioning.
After strengthening your sharpened brand positioning with a believable rationale, you need to establish the right brand personality for your product. The brand personality will bind all of your prospects’ and customers’ brand experiences in tone and character, and do so in a way that is consistent with the kind of motivation you are addressing, and the kind of rationale you are supporting it with.
This is not an easy step. There are many personalities that might work. Some possible personality types are: friend, teacher, lover, boss, advisor, etc. You can be sure that one of these personalities, might be better suited for your specific sharpened brand positioning – than the others.
We have now covered the five strategic steps toward ensuring that your brand is capable of building your market share. We now move toward the three executional steps that are also necessary to this end.
1. Identify the brand name, the brand logo, the brand colors, the brand sounds, and the basic brand graphic formats that convey the sharpened brand positioning, and are consistent with the brand rationale and the brand personality – in a way that is both attractive and memorable.
This first executional step involves the basic signals by which your prospects and customers will recognize communications and experiences that come from your product. This step involves considerable creativity. It also involves familiarity with the corresponding brand signals of your competitors’ brands, so that your brand signals are more attractive and memorable than theirs. Beauty and simplicity go a long way in carrying out this step.
2. Isolate a common experience in the lives of your core target group, a metaphor, or an image that can immediately telegraph the essentials of your sharpened brand positioning or rationale.
This second executional step involves the identification of a BIG PICTURE, or SELLING IDEA, that conveys your specific sharpened brand positioning or its product-based rationale in a way that is consistent with your brand personality. This step involves the crystallization of your brand message in a specific visual and conceptual way that you will deploy in all of the experiences or communications that your prospects can have of your product in all your communications with them, and which can explode in meaning in their minds, anchoring your brand’s positioning deep in their psyche. This step can multiply the power of your communications investment, because it makes more sure that your brand message is delivered effectively, every time.
3. Ensure that all the ‘channels’ through which your target group might have experiences or receive communications that they associate with your brand name – know that they are brand communications media, and that they each deliver your sharpened brand positioning, and is consistent with your brand rationale and brand personality.
This step is perhaps the most important one at the execution level of work. It’s thrust is to overcome the tendency of many departments in your company to engage in communications and activities that work AGAINST your business building efforts. Many departments in your company might have the mistaken impression that your brand is a function of the Marketing or Advertising Departments. In fact, contrary to conventional wisdom, these departments are often not the most important means for building your brand in your target groups’ minds. Here’s why.
Target groups are made up of people. People are always interpreting their experiences, and forming opinions and judgments based on them. Hence EVERY experience that a member of your target group might have, which they identify with your brand name, is a means of either strengthening or weakening your brand. For this reason you need to know all these “channels” that might contribute to your core target group’s cumulative impression of your brand.
Several of these ‘channels’, especially the experiential ones, like interactions with your sales people, your drivers, your billing statements, your customer care people, your collections people, and most importantly, the functionality of your product’s packaging, its usage, and its performance – are all based on specific functions that may not be regarded as brand-building functions in your company.
So it is critical that you, and especially they, realize that the functionalities through which they interact with your core target group are powerful brand-influencing media, and that you make sure they are able to fulfill both their functionality and their brand-influencing prospect-experiences carefully.
It is essential that you don’t miss a single such ‘channel’ of experience or communication that can affect the brand that forms in your target group’s mind. Otherwise the one you missed might deliver an experience or communication that leaves behind an impression that can weaken or dilute your brand in your target group’s minds.
In short, you will have to make sure that each kind of experience or communication that your core target group gets, is optimally designed to work hard toward building exactly your sharpened brand positioning. So this step might involve the institution of intra-company communications material, training programs, and motivational programs.
These need to be in place to make sure that each of the customer-facing ‘channels’ that are based on ‘other’ functionalities between your company and your core target group deliver your refined brand positioning optimally while executing their native function effectively.
Conclusion. You now know the five strategic and three executional steps necessary to build your brand in a way that builds your market share. If you make a sustained effort to carry out all these five strategic and three executional steps for your product, you will have a sound chance to increase your market share. When a brand positioning and its execution are pursued responsibly and single-mindedly in this way – you are more likely to convert your competitors’ customers, than you are likely to lose your customers to your competitors.
Over 30 years world-class experience in strategic marketing, market research, branding, communications, and design for top global companies in USA, UK, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and India.
Participated in building scores of major global brands, including AT&T, IBM, Kodak, CitiBank, ICI, AT&T Wireless, AT&T Business, Sperry Rand, Remington, Memorex, Frito-Lays, Pampers, Tide, Camay, Mr, Clean, Dash, Spic ‘n Span, Ariel, Head & Shoulders, Vicks Vaporub, Good Year Tyres, Band-Aid, Horlicks, Aga Lux Batteries, Saridon, Aspro, Shell Oil and Cadburys.
Formerly: CEO Saatchi & Saatchi Middle East Region. Management Director, Young & Rubicam Frankfurt, Germany. Account Director, Young & Rubicam, NY, USA. Regional Brand Director, Asia Pacific, AT&T Corp. NY, USA. Co-Founder, Frankfurter Ring, Frankfurt, Germany. Commissioner of Civil Rights, Princeton, NJ USA. Director of the Board of Ethics, Princeton, NJ, USA. Treasurer, Ethical Culture Fellowship. Princeton. USA.